Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Trying to help my 4th grader last night with her math homework. Apparently there is something called Base Ten Shorthand that I don't think we ever learned. Also, converting decimals to metric measure, impossible. I had that pit of my stomach feeling that I used to get in middle school and high school, when the math was just too hard to wrap my brain around. And honestly, I think this math is what we learned in 7th grade. Oh, and did I mention that I have a Masters Degree in Elementary Education and am certified to teach this crap? It blows my mind. Last week I had her conference. I love her teacher, but I think the stakes are so high, and the pressure on these teachers is such, that they need to teach above the test. Just to stay at the status quo. Erin is a young 4th grader. There are some kids that were turning 10 before she was turning 9 in her class this year. Legally, she was eligible and I think ready to start kindergarten when the state said she was. The parents that held their kids for an extra year were also within their rights. I don't begrudge them the choice to make decisions based on what was best for their families. What I do resent though is being told that Erin's is a "high" class, meaning that they are performing above grade level. It is also a class of older kids. So she is teaching "up here" ((hand gesture signifying just how high)) and that she is not going to "dumb it down". I should "be glad" that Erin will have had some exposure to it when it is taught next year (AT THE FIFTH GRADE LEVEL WHERE IT BELONGS!!!!!!!). It's apparent that the town, state, and some faceless team who makes the decisions that teaching at grade level is considered "dumbing it down."  So here we go with the cycle of "I'm not good at math" that I'm fairly certain is going to stick with her. I have no problem helping her. I am hands on homework mom. As a former teacher I think it's an important way to reinforce skills and to make sure that they are practicing the skills correctly. We have the extra practice books and know all the websites to hone her skills. This just seems unfair to me. And to her.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


so, about 2 weeks ago, tom's car died. we toiled over whether to just replace it with another small sedan "work" car for him, that gets good mileage, especially since he does reserves up in boston every month, or if we should just go for it and get a replacement for our minivan, which was going to need replacing in the next year or so anyway. we decided to get the small car, and ride out the life of the van until next year. wouldn't you just know that when we took the van in for a tune up because we are driving it down to my parents' condo in florida in 2 weeks that it looks like we have transmission issues. here's the thing.. i don't want to break down anywhere on the 2 day drive down there. so, here i go, off to carmax to look at some vehicles, that we really don't want to have to buy right now. takes the excitement right out of it. however, i reeeeally don't want to pack the 3 kids shoulder to shoulder in the back of the altima for that personal brand of hell. so much for trying to have an affordable, stress free vacation.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Shiny Shoes

I was just thinking about how I need to touch up the red glitter on Meghan's shiny shoes to wear to this event we are going to next week, which got me thinking that this may be the last year that she will wear sparkly shoes with everything from dresses to sweatpants to jeans. She also likes to her brown suede maryjanes with purple fleece bootcut pants. And her brown and aqua twinkletoes. And rain boots, shamelessly and with verve. I think we may need to get at least one more pair of black patent leather maryjanes here soon, because you never know when that era will end. I am afraid that since she's the 3rd kid and moves on to the next phase sooner than a first born that all of a sudden she's going to be a full grown full time big kid and that will be it. I'm not ready for that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


oh joy of joys, i was able to find an age appropriate, semi-formal dress for erin to wear to an event we are going to next weekend. 9-12 years old is most definitely the most difficult demographic to shop for anything dressy. i may need to market it to her as looking like something selena gomez would wear on wizards of waverly place since it's pink though. so, thank you target, you just made this mom's job a little bit easier.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Reality Check

I had posted a blog a few months back with a quote from Maya Angelou, about how you can tell alot about a person by the way they handle the little things can throw you off track. Tangled Christmas lights, lost luggage at the airport, etc. Can't remember the exact quote.  But this past year or so has shown me that I can maybe complain less, suck it up more, untangle those Christmas lights without the need for a major motion picture documenting how hard my life is. I've always had one of those self-deprecating personalities where, if even the most minor discrepency happened in my day you were going to hear about it. I always had a STORY!,  whether I tripped over a curb or dealt with an unpleasant clerk at the grocery store. This year has opened my eyes quite a bit as to just how much people reeeeeally go through on a daily basis. Some examples are the blog I follow of the 29 year old wife of  the 5th grade teacher at our school. She has Hodgkins Lymphoma and I have been following her story for a few months. She stays amazingly positive in spite of her everyday real life dramas. Here is her story:  Another is an acquaintance who I have come to think of as a dear friend has shared her brutally honest, often heartbreaking, and sometimes funny story of financial stress in And hitting even closer to home is my sister's  which I wouldn't even believe if I hadn't been there firsthand when most of her life was unravelling. Finally there is the blog about a college friend's 3 year old fighting a rare and terminal brain cancer on
And don't even get me started on the tsunami that hit Japan this week. So, don't expect to hear my whining about my kid that's been puking since 3:30 this morning. I'll be busy untangling the Christmas lights.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Cabin

Growing up, my family, on my dad's side had a cabin in the woods. It was an honest to goodness log cabin located in Smallwood, NY, in the Catskill Mountains. I think it had been in our family for quite awhile, and I imagine that my ancestors were the only people to have inhabited it. Let me paint you a mental picture. You drive uphill on a barely paved road and pull up to a little cabin in the woods. Then you hike (or so it seemed as a child) up a leafy path to the screen door that squeaked, and always slammed shut quickly. Now you're in the front screen porch with a bamboo couch with deliciously musty old cushions and a picnic table, covered with an ancient oilcloth tablecloth. Here is where we played hours and hours of rummy 500 and attempted to play chinese checkers, although I don't think we ever knew the rules. There was a radio with limited reception for entertainment. My parents would cook on our electric griddle right there on the table for breakfast every morning. Every time I turn on my own electric griddle the heat smell brings me right back.. Through the porch is the main room. In the center of the room was a wood burning stove on a stone or slate pallet, with the smokestack going straight up through the ceiling. There was a stone wall behind it to absorb the heat. To the left was a primitive "pull-out" couch and two kitchy arm chairs with smooth wooden arms and a lamp that reminds me of what you might find in a lodge-themed resort. There was a curtain that separated "my" room with 2 daybeds and a linen canister with a handmade skirt sewn around it. The curtain was also wide enough to act as a stage curtain. My favorite feature of that room was that there were 2 windows that opened up to the front porch, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. Behind another curtain was my parents room, which I think may have had a double bed and a tiny bathroom with a tinier shower that up until I was about 10, had no running hot water. We literally took baths in a metal tub with water heated up on the stove. The rooms had no ceilings. The tops of the walls just ended partway up and there must have been a beamed ceiling. We would throw balls and stuffed animals over the walls from one room to the next. Also off the main room there was a miniature kitchen with a 1950's refridgerator and a tiny little porch that brought you out back to a fire pit and acres and acres of trees. And ferns. There were ferns for miles. The smell of decaying leaves and ferns was overwhelmingly clean and pleasant smelling.

We had neighbors maybe a hundred yards from us on one side, but we never saw them and I don't know that they saw much of us either. We could go for walks, after finding the perfect walking sticks and just let our imaginations run wild. It was heaven on earth. There were two lakes nearby that we would go to swim and lounge and relax. Sometimes we would fish. I remember saving my money to buy purple rubber fishing lures that looked like worms to fish with. I never caught a fish with them, but we caught tons of minnows in buckets and the occasional chameleon became a short term pet. We would drive into nearby Liberty and they had tiny little junk shops where I remember buying chinese shoes and probably ceramic unicorns. As we got older, I wanted to spend more time with my friends and less time with my family. I became increasingly more sullen and begrudgingly spent my summers there, until when I was about 13, my parents (and my nan and aunt and uncle  I guess) decided that it was too expensive to keep it up, and the taxes kept getting higher and higher. Sadly, I think I was glad to see it go. It makes me sad now, that I was such a brat about it. What a great place, and great memories. That's where we would see drive in movies and spend time where it was just us. I would love to find something like that for us now. It's too bad it's gone. I need to find some pictures to scan in to really do it justice.

Monday, March 7, 2011

my outrageously unaffordable happy place

oh pottery barn, you break my heart.
with your unattainable beauty
why must you mock me?

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Yesterday my 7 year old son asked me "what does getting stoned mean?" Inwardly groaning, and knowing full well that this is to be covered in next years' health curriculum, I took a second to ask him where he heard it. Turns out his CCD teacher told him that when Jesus was alive, people were stoned to death. Whew. That's an easy one. God forbid we have the sex, drugs and rock and roll conversation. I told him that it was a form of punishment that would happen a long time ago because people didn't know any better.  Lame, but it sufficed.

Later that day, he told me that Ellie in his class, doesn't have a mom and dad, but has 2 dads. "How does that happen?" Again, a long pause while gathering my thoughts for the appropriate response. He answered it himself. "Oh wait, she was adopted." Uptight Catholic Parenting Crisis averted.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

She's got legs..

I started working out again just over a week ago. I am not hard core. I usually rock out to Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift or my new favorite, Mumford and Sons and run about 1.3 miles. Or I do the 30 Day Shred with Jillian Michaels. Well, Jillian is actually just On Demand, she's not really here. On Saturday I ran 2.13 miles at the gym, and watched Tom and the kids thru the window swimming in the pool. It was the perfect venue. Kept me motivated and happy, watching my little nuclear family being fit and frolicking in the deep end. Then we played kickball in the gym. Just the 5 of us. There was a lot of laughing and crying and screaming. But suuuuuuuper fun. My husband is super competitive and absolutely whaled me not once, but twice with the kickball, to get me out. He then declared himself the mvp of the game and we went home. We had gone to church that day and I want to say we had cheeseburgers and my favorite Alexia olive oil fries and veggies and dip. It was all in all a great day.

Last night I got up with Meghan and her very itchy legs at 3:30 in the morning. Or it went more like this... Meghan calls for me, and I get out of bed. And collapse on the floor. Full blown wipeout. My legs just completely didn't work. I was able to rally and walk the 70 yards or so to her room to repeatedly apply vaseline to her extremely itchy legs and went back to bed. Today I feel like my muscles have been shortened but the bones in my legs have remained the same length. And I'm convinced I have a thrombosis in my left leg. So today I took the day off. Hoping to get back at it tomorrow.